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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 11, Issue 8, Pages 681-685
Original Article

Health-Related Concerns of People who Receive Psychological Support for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Robert G Maunder,1 Elizabeth C de Rooy,4 Brenda B Toner,3 Gordon R Greenberg,1 A Hilary Steinhart,2 Robin S McLeod,1 and Zane Cohen1

1Departments of Psychiatry, Gastroenterology and Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada
2Departments of Internal Medicine and Surgery, University of Toronto, Canada
3Women’s Mental Health Research Programme, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
4Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, Canada

Received 22 April 1997; Accepted 4 July 1997

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) cope with a number of disease-specific concerns, which may result in referrals for supportive counselling.

OBJECTIVE: To determine differences between the health-related concerns of people with IBD who seek counselling or are referred for psychiatric assessment and those who have no recent contact with counselling or psychiatry.

METHODS: Forty-five consecutive patients with IBD referred for psychiatric consultation and 31 IBD out-patients who had recent counselling were compared with 190 IBD out-patients at the same hospital with no recent history of counselling. Disease-related concerns, demographic data and perceived symptom severity were assessed with self-report instruments.

RESULTS: Counselling patients had greater overall intensity of concern. Counselling patients differed from noncounselling patients on several measures related to illness severity and were more likely to be female. Correcting statistically for illness severity and sex, the counselled patients had significantly higher levels of concern about being a burden, pain and suffering, feeling out of control, financial difficulties, feeling alone, sexual performance, feeling dirty or smelly and being treated as different.

CONCLUSIONS: Beyond the intensity of their physical suffering, patients who seek counselling report a pattern of concern in which interpersonal and emotional concerns are prominent compared with those of out-patients who do not seek counselling. Clinicians should be aware of interpersonal concerns, which may increase the need for empathic support. Psychosocial interventions in IBD may be indicated without respect to psychiatric comorbidity.